Here we have a film that caught me off guard in so many ways. I did not know there would be such a cultural diversity shown in this film (prevalent Jewish community). The World Cup games being played at that time with Pele (film takes place in 1970, Sao Paulo) wove into another central theme not shown in the ads I saw. And knowing how dissidents were "taken care of" by the government during that period, I was amazed how this film addressed the topics of adults "taking vacations" (disappearing). This alternate viewpoint of how a child sees all of this, while still keeping the rating at PG, was done very well.
The story revolves around a 11/12 year old boy that is hurriedly dropped off at his grandparent's house in Sao Paulo so his parents can take a "vacation". Unbeknownst to his parents, the patriarch had passed away that day, but they left without discovering this. Now being left to fend for himself, some Jewish neighbors take him under their wing. The remainder of the film yields a beautiful story of how our boy learns about life, the World Cup, a dictatorship government, Jewish culture, and in the end - how to become a man years before his time.
Definitely the opposite of the City of God in seeing how children live in this city, but still eloquently told. A good family film, even if you don't speak either language (Yiddish, Portuguese). The subtitles did not display in every Yiddish scene, but I still got the jist of what was being said.
The DVD special features were ideal in discovering how a film like this gets made. And kudos to every actor/crew person interviewed (2 docus: Inside the Movie at 7 minutes and Interviews with the Cast and Crew at 10 minutes) as there was never that twinge of how "great" everyone is to work with and idolize. They just discussed the film and what it took to become the characters - it was refreshing.
I recommend this film similarly to Under the Same Moon. A well acted and believable movie that will leave you with questions, but in a way that makes you realize you just saw a good story.